Synopsis from Goodreads.
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd – whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself – Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.
Quick Note: This review is going to be extremely incoherent and incredibly useless. So if you have seen this book anywhere around and been a little bit curious…. I urge you to read it.
It probably won’t surprise you to see that I’ve decided not to write this review in my usual form. This is because the ‘High Points’ would consist of just a picture of the book. The Low Points would be redundant (I can usually find a few low points, even if I adore the book, but this one… I got nothing). I can’t think of Conor without my heart exploding and to choose a theme tune for this book would force me to admit that something made me feel the same way as this book did. And, as I always try and keep my reviews honest, I can’t do that.
This book is one of those rare books that you can go into knowing everything about but it doesn’t matter at all.
You’ll know the plot, you’ll know the theme, you’ll know the idea and you’ll know the emotions. You can even take a pretty good guess at what’s going to happen at the end but you’ll still be sat there as the you close the book softly (probably in the early morning, trying to stifle your tears with the nearest pillow/blankey/teddy bear… though that could just be me), shocked beyond comprehension and physically numb.
My favourite thing about this book (apart from everything) was how Ness never resorts to tricking his reader to try and make this book more shocking or sad than it needs to be.
A Monster Calls is a quiet, subtle story and the language is simple, honest and heart-stoppingly beautiful. And I think that is the reason why I spent a sleepless night because my mind (and heart) was racing a thousand miles per hour.
Oh and yeah… the headache I gave myself from crying so hard.
That was also a bit of a factor.
There are some writers who find it practically impossible to write an emotional scene without the help of a long-winded metaphor followed by a fistful of adjectives and then a huge dollop of flowery prose that makes no sense, whichever way you look at it. They pile on all of this useless window dressing which always fails to mask the fact that they have no idea what they’re talking about.
I believe that true readers can tell when a writer has the ability to convey raw emotion without all of the unnecessary faff.
Patrick Ness is definitely one of the latter.
His ability to create this masterpiece while maintaining and staying faithful to Siobhan Dowd’s original idea and style is nothing short of astounding. (A fantastic article that seems to be able to explore a bit more coherently on this subject… which I’m finding, as you can tell, impossible. “The point of art and love is to try to shortchange that grim tax collector, death. Ness, Dowd, Kay and Walker have rifled death’s pockets and pulled out a treasure.” I loved that part, it’s so true.)
Every book that Ness has written affects me in the same way. My heart is thundering, my jaw is scraping the floor and I have
always sometimes never squealed ‘OH MY GOD’ out loud.
I guess they don’t call it Nessochism for nothing.
Um… OK, that’s not really a thing.
But it should be because you must have some masochistic tendencies to be a Ness fan.
It is ridiculous how emotionally invested I get with these stories and combine that with humour (whether it is the deliciously dry quips from the monster himself or a night fuelled by Vindaloo and giggles), this book really does have it all.
If The Chaos Walking Trilogy cemented Ness as one of my favourite male YA authors of all time, then A Monster Calls has definitely pulled him up to Pullman stratospheres. Strong words, I know, but necessary words.
It is so refreshing, in a genre that is dominated by the ladies, to find a male author that can not only match them but run circles around them.
I know this book was available on Netgalley a few months ago but I’m guessing that that copy didn’t include the mesmerising illustrations by Jim Kay. Here, I want to direct you to Mr Kay’s website where you can see a selection of them. He will no doubt explain them a bit better than I will do… because I’m seriously considering just writing *brain implodes with the beauty* and leaving it at that.
But I won’t…
I honestly think this is the most aesthetically beautiful book I have ever owned.
I would love to
crawl into Mr Kay’s mind and set up camp sit down with him and ask about the thought processes that went into producing these drawings.
When I was reading this story I kept finding myself just staring at them and then I would remember that I was actually reading something and reluctantly tear my eyes away.
This book was cinematic.
My favourite illustrations are as follows:
1)The monster’s first visit.
2)The monster in his grandma’s sitting room.
3)The scene with the horse.
4) Conor on the cliff (extra Brownie points for me for actually being able to see that one because tears were freely pouring at this point.)
5) The rest of them….
YOU try and pick just five of them!
I would quite happily rip out my wardrobes and allow Mr Kay to create these stunning pictures all across my bedroom walls.
If you find yourself passing your local bookshop or you’re on the internet or you see this book lying around in your friend’s house and they’re not looking (I’m
really not kidding about that last one), please pick it up, give yourself five hours and “…go. Run with it. Make trouble”.